Emily Files

Education Reporter

Emily became WUWM’s Education Reporter in August 2018 after spending four years in small-town Alaska.

She began as a reporter for KRBD in Ketchikan, where she once covered a bear interrupting a high school cross country race. She then worked as a reporter and eventually news director at KHNS Radio in Haines, where she reported on a man in a bear costume harassing actual bears. Aside from the occasional bear story, Emily covered the local politics, tribal issues, hunting, fishing and, of course, education.

Emily is originally from the Chicago area. She studied journalism at Emerson College in Boston, where she reported her very first radio stories for college station WERS. She interned at NPR’s Weekend Edition, The Boston Globe and PRI’s The World. Emily’s work has aired on NPR's Morning Edition, Marketplace, NPR’s Only a Game, and The World.

Ways to Connect

Emily Files / WUWM

Updated 10:39 a.m.  

Within the next two weeks, Milwaukee plans to vaccinate all educators living or working in the city who want a shot.

The Milwaukee Health Department announced Tuesday that it expects to receive 17,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses between March 1-15 that will be used for school and childcare workers. Volunteers from Children's Hospital and Medical College of Wisconsin will help staff the clinics. 

Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Wisconsin health officials are creating a statewide COVID-19 vaccination schedule for school employees, in an effort to prioritize underserved communities.

>>Wisconsin Educators And Childcare Workers Next In Line For Vaccine, Beginning March 1

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Now that close to half of Wisconsinites age 65 and older have received at least one shot, the Department of Health Services is opening eligibility to more people in Phase 1b. It's starting with school and daycare employees – an estimated 225,000 people – who will be eligible March 1.

Emily Files / WUWM

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers rolled out his biennial budget proposal last week. It includes major investments in public health and criminal justice reform, increases taxes by about $1 billion and repeals some parts of Act 10.

In the 19th century, Wisconsin’s Territorial Legislature divided Milwaukee County into seven townships. Five of them eventually became municipalities: Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, Greenfield, Franklin, and Oak Creek.

SCOTT OLSON / Getty Images

University of Wisconsin System Interim President Tommy Thompson is directing campuses to plan for a mostly in-person fall semester.

Thompson wants campuses to get back to as close to normal as possible, by offering at least 75% of classes fully in-person or hybrid. In pre-pandemic times, he said about 80% of classes were in-person, with the rest online.

Courtesy UWM

One of UW-Milwaukee’s top administrators is retiring after 20 years at the university. Joan Prince, Vice Chancellor of Global Inclusion and Engagement, has overseen diversity and equity efforts at the university.

Prince is also a four-time graduate of UWM, earning two bachelors’ degrees, a master’s degree and a doctorate.

During her time at UWM, Prince worked to increase diversity in the school’s study abroad programs.

Courtesy Deborah Kerr and Jill Underly

 Updated Wednesday at 11:25 a.m. CT

The race for Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction is a little less crowded, after voters narrowed a field of seven candidates down to two in Tuesday’s primary election.

Unofficial results show Jill Underly with 27.31% of the vote and Deborah Kerr with 26.49%.

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Milwaukee’s mayor is asking the state for more COVID-19 vaccine, as data show Milwaukee County lagging in the percentage of people vaccinated.

Tom Barrett reacted after state Department of Health Services data Thursday showed 11% of Wisconsinites have gotten at least one COVID shot, compared to just 8% in Milwaukee County.

There are also stark racial disparities. Ten percent of white Wisconsinites have been vaccinated, compared to just 3% of Black and Hispanic residents.

Wisconsin Eye

Wisconsin Republicans on the Joint Committee on Finance approved a plan Wednesday to reward public schools that are open in-person with about $66 million in federal aid.

Courtesy Sarah Poeppel

A small percentage of Milwaukee Public Schools special education students are returning to classrooms in three school buildings this week, for the first time since schools closed last March.

COURTESY DEBORAH KERR AND JILL UNDERLY

After the Feb. 16 Primary Election, the field for Wisconsin State Superintendent for Public Instruction has narrowed from seven to two people — Deborah Kerr and Jill Underly. Kerr is the former Brown Deer School District superintendent and Underly is the current superintendent of the rural Pecatonica School District.

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This week, Milwaukee Public Schools is observing Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action, which draws attention to issues of racial equity in education.

Students of color have been through a lot this past year. The COVID pandemic shuttered schools and devastated communities. There was also a resurgence in the movement for racial justice, after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Lauren Sigfusson / WUWM

The City of Milwaukee is relaxing some parts of its coronavirus health order, as infection rates decline. The new health order goes into effect Friday.

Ethan Miller / GETTY IMAGES

In Wisconsin and elsewhere, some people who are not at high-risk for COVID-19 infection have been able to “jump the line” and get vaccinated when providers have had extra doses.

Thirty-three-year-old Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry announced on Twitter that he was able to get the vaccine, even though he is not eligible under Wisconsin’s prioritization plan. Right now, it includes healthcare workers, first responders and people age 65 and older.

Emily Files / WUWM

Milwaukee Public Schools will bring back some special education students for in-person learning, after repeated warnings from the state and threats of financial sanctions.

Emily Files / WUWM

Updated 12:06 p.m.  

Milwaukee Public Schools is required by the state to resume in-person instruction for some students with disabilities, starting in early February. 

Emily Files

For the first time in about 20 years, there’s a wide-open race for Wisconsin’s top K-12 education official. Seven candidates are running for superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction.

Incumbent Carolyn Stanford Taylor is not seeking election. She was appointed two years ago to serve the remainder of Tony Evers’ term, after he was elected governor.

Jon Cherry / GETTY IMAGES

School employees, grocery workers, inmates and 911 operators would be included in Phase 1b of the state’s COVID vaccine distribution plan, under a recommendation a task force issued Wednesday.

Rido / stock.adobe.com

Updated 5:29 p.m.

Everyone over age 65 in Wisconsin will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting Monday but it could take a couple of months to inoculate the entire group of 700,000 people, state health officials said.

The department cautioned that the speed of vaccinations depends on how much vaccine the federal government sends. Wisconsin receives about 70,000 doses of first-dose vaccine each week; at that pace, it could take two months to vaccinate the next group.

DADEROT / WIKIMEDIA

Updated at 4:45 p.m. CST

A Republican-backed push to fast-track redistricting lawsuits in the Wisconsin Supreme Court met with skepticism during a Thursday hearing, with the court's conservative chief justice questioning why the proposal was necessary and how the thinly staffed court could be expected to draw maps.

Emily Files

One Milwaukee-area university is clearing the way for some of its students to help with Wisconsin’s massive COVID-19 vaccination effort. Concordia University in Mequon offered a special immunization class for its first and second-year pharmacy students earlier this month.

The students normally wouldn’t learn how to administer vaccines until spring of their second year in the program, but now they can be called upon to give COVID shots as soon as they’re needed.

Emily Files / WUWM

Some Wisconsin residents are speaking out against the supporters of President Donald Trump who rioted at the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday. The extremists interrupted the certification of the presidential election. Five people died as a result of the chaos.

In Milwaukee Sunday, a group of about 50 people gathered for what they called a “rally against the far right.”

Becca Schimmel / WUWM

The city of Milwaukee plans to use the Wisconsin Center as a COVID-19 vaccination site beginning next week.

The city started vaccinating its health department workers and emergency medical personnel this week, with an initial 120 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

“Individuals who are getting vaccinated feel a sense of hope and relief,” Milwaukee Interim Health Commission Marlaina Jackson said during a press briefing Friday.

Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Now that the holiday season is over, Wisconsin leaders hope to increase COVID-19 vaccinations.

According to the State Department of Health Services, Wisconsin has administered about a third of the vaccine doses it has received. Of 266,675 doses shipped to the state, 85,609 shots have been given.

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As WUWM Education Reporter Emily Files visited virtual classrooms this month, she found that online school requires teachers to be intentional about how they deliver instruction, but also about how they connect with students.

Ashley Duley, an eighth grade English teacher at West Milwaukee Intermediate School, says she’ll carry those lessons with her, when life and school get back to normal.

Emily Files / WUWM

There were a number of major news developments this year that intersected with just about every area of life — including education. The biggest education story of 2020 has been how COVID-19 changed schooling so dramatically.

On March 13, Gov. Tony Evers closed K-12 schools as coronavirus cases began to surface in Wisconsin. School leaders scrambled to provide meals and education options for students at home.

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This school year, many districts decided to utilize virtual education in an effort to protect staff and students from the coronavirus. Milwaukee Public Schools is one of them.

As part of a series about how teachers are adapting to this new education format, WUWM’s Emily Files visited an MPS virtual classroom.

Emily Files / WUWM

Many schools in Milwaukee have spent the entire first half of the school year online, as a precaution against the coronavirus. WUWM has been visiting virtual classrooms to see how teachers are adapting.

McKenzie King, a chemistry teacher at Carmen Southeast High School in Milwaukee, says some learning experiences are impossible to recreate virtually. Right now, she’s teaching her students about chemical compounds. It’s usually one of her favorite units.

Al Drago / Stringer

Updated 3:00 p.m. CST

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday rejected President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, ending Trump's legal challenges in state court about an hour before the Electoral College was to meet to cast the state's 10 votes for Biden.

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